BBC News website whitewashes attack on Israeli footballers

An article titled “Pro-Palestinian protest halts Maccabi Haifa match” appeared on the Europe and Middle East pages of the BBC News website on July 24th.Maccabi Haifa art

The BBC’s version of events is as follows:

“Pro-Palestinian protesters have disrupted a football match in Austria between the Israeli club Maccabi Haifa and French team Lille.

The pre-season friendly in Bischofshofen was stopped close to the final whistle when protesters waving Palestinian flags stormed the pitch.

It seems that no-one was seriously hurt in the incident.”

Readers might wonder why the BBC found it necessary to point out that no-one was seriously hurt if the disruption only involved “protesters waving Palestinian flags”. The answer to that conundrum is that rather more than just flag waving went on. The Daily Telegraph reported:

“Pro-Palestinian protesters invaded the pitch and physically attacked Maccabi Haifa players towards the end of a preseason match against French side Lille in Austria on Wednesday”

Ynet reported:

“Anti-Israel protesters invaded the pitch late Wednesday in Bischofshofen, near Salzburg, in a pre-season friendly late Wednesday between Maccabi Haifa and French side Lille, and physically confronted Israeli players towards the end of a the training match.

Police said Thursday the disturbance was the work of locals, most of them of Turkish origin, whose identities were known.

The Austria Press Agency cited Maccabi as saying team members Idan Vered und Dekel Keinan were physically accosted before police broke up the melee. […]

The rioting fans tried to attack Yossi Benayoun, the national team captain, as well as other members of the squad. One player was spat on, while the coach entered the pitch to protect his players.

None of the players were injured. They walked to the dressing rooms as security forces cleared the protesters. One player, defender Samuel Scheimann, claimed at least one of the rioters was armed with a pocket knife.”

That is a rather different picture to the one presented by the BBC article – and particularly interesting because the image later added to this BBC report clearly shows one of the ‘protesters’ kicking an Israeli player, but that part of the story is not reflected in the text. The Daily Mail has similar images, as well as a picture suggesting that the BBC’s euphemistically termed “Pro-Palestinian protesters” would be more accurately described as anti-Israel.

photo credit: Daily Mail

photo credit: Daily Mail

photo credit: Daily Mail

photo credit: Daily Mail

The article goes on:

“Israel launched a military offensive on 8 July, with the declared objective of stopping rocket fire from Gaza.

At least 649 Palestinians and 32 Israeli soldiers, plus three Israeli civilians, have been killed in the past 15 days of fighting, officials say.”

Once again, the BBC fails to inform readers of the sources of its Palestinian casualty figures and of the fact that they have not been independently verified by the BBC.